PTI govt vows to repair economic damages as it completes a year in power

ISLAMABAD: The government of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) is repairing the economic damage done by the previous governments, Federal Minister for Education and Professional Training Shafqat Mahmood said to Radio Pakistan on Sunday which marks completion of incumbent government’s first year in power.

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PTI had taken “tough decisions” to address the economic crisis in Pakistan, said Mahmood.

While praising the efforts of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to hold powerful individuals accountable, the federal minister said that billions of rupees had been stashed abroad through money laundering.

Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting (SAPM) Firdous Ashiq Awan, while addressing a ceremony on Sunday being held to celebrate government’s first year here at Prime Minister’s Secretariat in Islamabad, said the government “believes in the right to freedom of expression and speech.”

Awan insisted that Prime Minister Imran Khan had not tried to curb the media at any level or at any forum.

“He did not communicate that the media be maligned through any personal action.”

She said that in the coming week, one ministry will be answerable before the media daily.

Awan emphasised on the Ehsas welfare programme as one of the achievements of the PTI government and said: “Ehsaas programme is close to the premier’s heart. He believes that a society cannot change until people understand each other’s situations.”

Talking about the ongoing Indian-occupied Kashmir crisis, Awan said, “it was a big success of the foreign ministry that for the first time [in 50 years] a UN session took place [regarding Kashmir] despite India repeatedly calling for a veto of this in the past.”

“The government, through the platform of the foreign ministry and under the leadership of the prime minister, will present the Kashmir issue — which is our top priority — before the world.”

Prime Minister Khan will not address the ceremony. Awan said the premier’s address that was scheduled for today had been postponed as the government’s “full-time focus” was on Kashmir.

The special ceremony was attended by various ministers — including SAPM Awan and Prime Minister’s Special Assistant on Political Affairs Naeemul Haque — and other party leaders.

Meanwhile, Chief Minister Usman Buzdar inaugurated the Plant for Pakistan drive in Punjab today. Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi also planted a sapling at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as part of the Clean and Green Drive.

On the other hand, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb on Sunday said, the illegitimate and incompetent government will proudly present its report of failures today.

In a tweet, Aurangzeb said, “today Imran Khan is forming an inquiry commission to inquire the unprecedented 7.6 trillion increase in debt over last one year due to his incompetence!”

“The federal government debt stock rose from Rs24.2 trillion as on 3-6-2018 to Rs31.8 trillion as on 30-6-2019, showing an increase of a staggering Rs7.6 trillion or 31 percent,” the PML-N leader added.

“At a GDP of 38.6 trillion, this comes as 82.4 per cent of GDP. This is an unprecedented increase in a single year. It is necessary, therefore, to examine the causes that have led to such an increase,” she wrote.

The domestic debt increased from Rs16.4 trillion to Rs20.7 trillion showing an increase of Rs4.3 trillion, Aurangzeb said while criticising the government, adding, “external debt rose from Rs7.8 trillion to Rs11.1 trillion, showing an increase of Rs3.3 trillion or 42 per cent.”

She further said the last fiscal year has seen an unprecedented increase in the interest rate. Starting from 6.5 per cent at the beginning of the fiscal year, the interest rate has increased to 12.25 percent at the close, nearly doubling.

Aurangzeb said, “we now examine the impact of devaluation. Based on the budget documents, Pakistan has borrowed Rs1,403 billion in external loans while it has paid back Rs929 billion in foreign loans.” “Net external borrowing of Rs474 billion. Subtracting this from Rs3,300 billion leaves Rs2,826 billion as the capital loss on external debt,” she further added.

This is an unprecedented capital loss due to rupee devaluation, which depreciated from Rs124.5 to Rs163 per dollar during the financial year.

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